Wisconsin November 13, 2017
This New Wisconsin Trail Just Made a Popular Area Even Easier to Explore
There’s an area in south-central Wisconsin that’s bursting at the seams with amazing state parks, natural areas, paths and more. In the Sauk City/Prairie du Sac area, there is just nothing but protected public lands at your disposal. But for right now, those areas can only be reached using highways – not always the safest option if you’re on your bike.
Wisconsin has the oldest rail-to-trail route in the country and has been a leader in converting old railroad tracks into recreational trails. The newly opened Great Sauk State Trail is the first in a series of steps to connect this area.
The new trail is just more than five miles long and connects the city of Sauk City with the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area.
But this trail is just the first step in a plan that is looking to connect to Devil's Lake State Park and eventually connect to the 400 State Trail in Reedsburg.
The next phase of the plan is to continue following the old rail line for 6.75 miles through the State Recreation Area. That next stretch would end at a road that has direct access to Devil's Lake State Park.
This is a huge, multi-phase plan that's going to require a lot of money and effort from a few different spots. But if they can complete it and if Dane County extends their trail system just a bit to link Sauk City and Springfield Corners, there would be a near-continuous off-road bike trail from the Mississippi River to Madison. It would be an unprecedented set of trails, making that part of Wisconsin a highly sought-after spot for cyclists.
The plan is to travel through the long abandoned area that once held Badger Ammunitions to connect the State Natural Area with Devil's Lake.
For now, this new five mile stretch is relatively flat and takes a gorgeous course along the Wisconsin River from Sauk City to the State Recreation Area. It's a beautiful stretch that follows the riverbank and provides safe and easy access to the State Natural Area.
The new path has opened up the area's access to the Wisconsin River. Where once there had been decaying and unsightly railroad tracks, now there's a paved path and views and access to the river. Now businesses along this stretch are looking backward, towards the banks and opening patios and dining areas that utilize the new and beautiful view.
The DNR is anticipating this to be one of the most highly traversed trails in the state almost immediately. With parking available in various spots in Sauk City and access to so much area that was previously not open to those on bike or foot and in an area of the state that has long drawn those who love the outdoors, this new trail is a big improvement for the state.
The new trail is a great collaboration between the government and private citizens who are working to help urge the construction of these trails along. Private businesses like Culvers have also donated to the trail building and these groups are receiving overwhelming support from the community.
This stunning area is one of the most popular and highly-visited spots of the state and these new trails, completed and planned, offer unprecedented access to the nature and wilderness. Wisconsin has long been on the forefront of nature conservancy and providing lands for public access. These trails are just the next step in that long held state belief.
Can’t get enough of hiking in Wisconsin? Take a look at
these 13 trails that just about anyone can travel.